LUCY CORES – Corpse de Ballet. Duell Sloan & Pearce, hardcover, 1944. Collier, paperback, 1965 (shown). Rue Morgue Press, trade paperback, 2004.

   The threesome of detectives who work together in this book to solve the murder of a male ballet star on the night of his comeback also appeared in one earlier novel, Painted To Kill (Duell, 1943). The occupations of two of them, however, have changed. Lt. Andrew Torrent is still a homicide detective, but Eric Skeets has become a lieutenant in the army, and Toni Ney is now a newspaper reporter, albeit only a daily exercise columnist who sometimes also covers the world of ballet.

   I am not ordinarily a fan of ballet, but Miss Cores’ depiction of what goes on behind the scenes, either in rehearsal or the actual performances themselves, is fascinating. Jealousy and competitive rivalry being what it is, there is no shortage of suspects in the death of the famed choreographer and dancer Izlomin, and it takes quite a while (over 220 pages) to sort out who was where when and why they might want to see him dead.

   Damping my enthusiasm a tad, though, is the complicated nature of the means, requiring five jam-packed pages for the final full explanation, parts of which require a sizable suspension of disbelief, at least on my part. The attraction of Toni to one of the suspects, seriously threatening her unofficial engagement to Lt. Skeets, also seemed to have been added as an edgy distraction I’m not sure the story really needed.

   It all ends well, however, and thankfully so, as this was our protagonists’ last recorded adventure together.